Seals, sea lions and walruses are all pinnipeds (ooh la la), and despite being in the same family, they can be very different indeed!
1. Bearded seal
This is the largest true seal, and it lives in the Arctic where it stays warm with its thick blubber and dense water-resistant fur. Unlike other true seals, the bearded seal primarily forages for food buried the sea bed rather than catching surface-dwellling fish.
2. Hawaiian monk seal
Hawaiian monk seals are endangered and in decline. Their main predators are sharks and killer whales, so to stay safe these seals inhabit shallow coastal water. Males are aggressive and escort their females around so no other males have access to their ladies. Sadly males can accidentally injure or even kill females during mating.
Walruses use their tusks to help them haul out of the icy Arctic ocean. Walruses can sleep on land, but they often sleep completely submerged on the sea bed. Underwater sleep lasts only a few minutes at a time, and by the time the walrus wakes up it has usually risen almost all the way to the surface!
4. Elephant seal
This apex predator migrates south twice a year, once before breeding and once before molting, though females with pups will migrate for a shorter time to keep their pup safe from predators. Elephant seals can be spotted on the Pacific coasts of South and Central America but should not be approached as males are territorial and might attack.
5. Spotted seal
Spotted seals have excellent underwater hearing, and are good at picking up specific sounds from background noise. As the ice melts in the Arctic summer, these seals head off into the ocean to feed, then return to frozen solid ground to breed in the winter.
6. Ribbon seal
Ribbon seals are arguably the most distinctive seal species with their banded black and white colouration. These stripes may make it difficult for a hunting predator to detect the seal’s exact shape, helping the seal escape unharmed. Males have more distinctive bands, which suggests that their colouration plays a role in dominance.
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